Steve's breakdown: This article does not say who's handling the
account so it might be worth a phone call.
WILDWOOD, NJ: Jersey Shore businesses and municipal leaders are
heralding the state's plan to restore a national spring-summer
tourism marketing campaign they say is critical to a successful
The Christie administration last spring eliminated funding for
the Garden State's multimillion-dollar radio, television,
newspaper, and Internet pitch to potential visitors.
The Division of Travel and Tourism will announce in March the
launch of a multimedia campaign, Shawn Crisafulli, a Department of
State spokesman, confirmed last week.
Details of the effort, including its cost and theme, will be
revealed at the three-day Governor's Conference on Tourism to begin
March 23 in Atlantic City, Crisafulli said.
"We're enthusiastic about the campaign," said Crisafulli, adding
that the state would also introduce a vacation guide that
highlights attractions throughout New Jersey.
That was welcome news to members of the travel and leisure
industry in Cape May County, which last year generated $16 billion
- or 41 percent - of the state's tourism revenue. The region's
revenue ranks second only to Atlantic City among Garden State
The $38 billion vacation industry is the second- or
third-largest economic sector in New Jersey, depending on the year,
and accounts for about a half-million jobs. Cape May County, which
attracts 50 million visitors annually, employs about 35,000 people
a year in tourism.
The lack of a big marketing campaign last year to entice
visitors stung John Siciliano, executive director of the Greater
Wildwoods Tourism Improvement and Development Authority.
Every time he saw a TV commercial for Ocean City, Md., or
Virginia Beach, Va., "it just drove me nuts," Siciliano said. "When
you have a bad economy to begin with, you don't back away from
spending money to promote one of your top industries. It made no
sense to us."
To help Wildwood, North Wildwood, and Wildwood Crest rebound
from 2009, when tourism spending bottomed out, Siciliano's agency
spent more than $1.5 million on advertising - several hundred
thousands of dollars more than it did the previous year.
Its cheeky campaign slogan apparently struck a chord with
vacation bargain-hunters. "Are You Free This Summer? The Wildwoods
Are" reminded travelers that the Wildwoods, unlike most other
resorts in the county, do not charge beach-tag fees and offer a
multitude of free summer events.
According to the authority, the Wildwoods' tourism tax revenue
from last January to November was $3.7 million, about 6 percent
more than in all of 2009.
The three towns levy a 2 percent tax on lodging, meals, and
beverages, and keep the revenue. An additional 7 percent sales tax
and a 5 percent hotel-motel room occupancy tax go to the state.
Without a state-funded marketing campaign, towns on the southern
end of New Jersey's 127-mile coast worked "a little closer" with
one another last year, said Diane F. Wieland, director of the Cape
May County Tourism Department.
"In areas where you saw a redoubled effort, like in the
Wildwoods, or Ocean City, or Cape May, you saw improved numbers for
the season," Wieland said. "But you can never underestimate what a
large role the weather plays, and it was also a perfect summer for
Her department is gearing up for the season by hosting exhibits
at East Coast travel trade shows, handing out brochures, and
encouraging visitors to begin making reservations, Wieland
The state marketing campaign will "enhance" local efforts and
cast a wider net for tourists such as Canadians, who Wieland said
tend to stay longer. With regional visitors making shorter jaunts
because of the economy, Canadians have helped fill hotel rooms
midweek, she said.
Rising gas prices - AAA Mid-Atlantic predicts a gallon will
hover around $3.50, but other analysts have speculated it could
reach $5 - also tend to help the Shore, Wieland said.
That's when people decide to stay closer to home - good news for
vacation destinations near the populous Philadelphia and New York
metro areas, she said.
"From what we've seen, people are very interested in planning
their summer vacations early. We don't know if it's the snowy, cold
winter or what that has people wanting to think summer, but they
seem very enthusiastic," Wieland said.
Joseph Simonetta, executive director of the New Jersey Travel
Industry Association, is bullish about the summer season.
"We're looking at an uptick in the economy, enhancements to
attractions in New Jersey, and an improvement in
destination-marketing efforts by the state with the support of the
Christie administration," Simonetta said. The season "looks bright